Sunday, May 12, 2013

Bike trip days 10-15

Well, I suppose it is time I filled in the rest of the trip! Here are days 10 to 15. More to come.

The last post left off with me arriving Orbost, just as the rain was coming in...

Day 10: Orbost (no riding!)

I took a rest day in Orbost due to the weather - it was raining on and off all throughout the day and it was very cold. I fixed up my broken mudguard using the staple of all good engineers, duct tape. I gave the bike a clean, and bought an 8mm spanner from the hardware store so that I could retighten all of the rack and mudguard bolts that had nuts on the other side.

All in all it was a pretty uneventful day and I was looking forward to getting back on the road the day after.

Day 11: Orbost to Cann River (75 km)

For me, this was the first day where I had to spend the entire day riding on the Princes Highway. This started out okay as there was a pretty substantial shoulder a lot of the time, but it soon got worse. Often the shoulder would completely disappear, forcing me to ride in the car lane with 100 km/h traffic going past. Not cool, but most drivers were pretty good and the traffic wasn't too heavy.

On the plus side, the scenery really started to change and instead of riding through endless farmland I was now riding in endless forest. The weather had cleared up and, traffic issues aside, it was a pretty nice day. I arrived in Cann River and had a look at the caravan park on the outskirts of town. It was a nice location, but completely deserted apart from some (German?) backpackers who had a car parked next to a power point and were charging their phones. They were also having some sort of loud argument. Many of the campsites were still flooded from the previous day's rain. Hmmm.

In the end I decided to stay at the local pub again! This was a really nice pub with friendly staff and it was good to have a solid roof again. (Although after the fourth night indoors in a row, I was also starting to miss my tent!)

Day 12: Cann River to Mallacoota (70 km)

In the morning it was time for the Princes Highway again. Well, for the first 50 km anyway. Over breakfast I had a nice chat with some folks from the Shepparton Adventure Club who were about to head down to the coastline and do a multiday hike to Mallacoota. Given that Mallacoota was my destination for the day, it was nice to feel like I was the one with the faster form of transport!

The first 50 km of riding was more of the same: lovely rainforest, intermittently appearing road shoulder, and lots of caravans, utes, and the occasional truck going past. I then reach the town of Genoa and the turnoff to Mallacoota. (Tip: Genoa has a free campsite that is very well set up - if I wasn't headed to Mallacoota I would have stayed there.)

From there it was a 20 km diversion from the main road to get down to Mallacoota, on a very hilly road. I had heard nothing but good things about this place so I figured it was worth the extra riding. As I arrived in the town, I understood why. It really is a beautiful place! The town is situated next to a system of lakes, but also on the ocean. There is a gigantic caravan park/campsite right on the water and its $20 a night with free WiFi. Nice!

After getting myself sorted out I found myself having a predinner snack and drink with some older folks who'd travelled down with their caravan from North-West Victoria. They had a really interesting life story whose details escape me now... but I recall there was some talk of living in a mud-brick house with no electricity which was pretty cool.

Day 13: Mallacoota (no riding!)

I decided to have another day off to enjoy Mallacoota. I had a pretty lazy start and then rode my bike along the edge of the lake to the start of a walking trail into the 'Narrows', where one lake transitions into another. The scenery along this walk was really stunning. Absolutely clear water, and what looked like islands covered in green bushland rising up on the opposite side.

After the walk I had a lazy evening - met another pair of Germans travelling around Australia in a car (a theme on this trip), a Czech couple as well, and some more older folks from all over Australia.

Day 14: Mallacoota to Eden (85 km)

It was time to get back to my old friend, the good old Princes Highway. I backtracked my steps to Genoa and pulled up at the campground to use the loo. For the first time on the trip I spotted other cycle tourists!

They were two German guys, Malte and Philip, who had left from Sydney and were heading to Adelaide (of all places!). They were on two second hand bikes they'd bought in Sydney and were towing a trailer each, both of which were absolutely packed with camping gear. My bike and panniers felt spritely in comparison. The differences extended to our attire: Malte and Philip were in board shorts and t-shirts and no helmets, I had full fluro lycra and a helmet - total opposites! We talked for at least an hour, comparing notes and then headed off. I am hoping to catch up with them again when they reach Adelaide.

The rest of the day was more Princes Highway... and it started to get hilly! Really hilly. I would zip down one hill at full speed then come to an almost halt as the next hill went straight upward. Fun times. I stayed at the caravan park in Eden and had a pretty uneventful night.

Day 15: Eden to Tathra (50 km)

On this day I finally got to leave the Princes Highway. After Merimbula I got onto a back road which went through to the small town of Tathra. This meant more up-and-down hills but with slightly less traffic. Tathra was a nice little town and everyone was telling me about the mountain bike enduro race that was going to happen a few days later. There really seemed to be a lot of excitement about the mountain bike race - it was great!

Again I had a pretty uneventful night, but I did have several good phone chats, including most of my siblings!

That's it for the time being. There are another 5 days to write about, which I will get to eventually! (and eventually I'll put up some photos to go with all the text.)

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